January 26, 2017

1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

It is interesting that Peter, who was certainly uneducated by the world’s standards, (Acts 4:13) would quote this chunk of Psalm 34. I am reminded of evangelist and pastor Stewart Briscoe who, when asked what seminary he had attended, said, “Bedside Bible College.” When pressed with, “How do we know you’re a preacher,” he said, “Sit down and listen!” We get all impressed with human credentials when we should be looking for what God says about a person. Many seminaries have done a lot of good, but quite a few have actively destroyed Biblical faith – and sometimes those are the same schools! Knowledge, especially of the Bible, is in general a good thing, but we must remember Paul’s admonition: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) We are to know, but above all we are to love God and love our neighbor. Initials after a person’s name mean nothing if that person doesn’t love God in all humility and gratitude, and in consequence love their neighbor. John said, “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.” (1 John 2:27) I’m sure he was referencing what he heard Jesus say before His crucifixion: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26) If we don’t have an active relationship with Christ by His Spirit, all the academics in the world won’t do us any good.

I would not say my own seminary degree was worthless, but my time there was more valuable for the experience itself than for the academics. I had many classmates who genuinely loved God and were called by Him to serve in “full-time ministry,” but I also had classmates who were there for various other reasons, and I would hope that God in His mercy quickly removed them from church leadership. The school my associate pastor attended deliberately focuses on developing faith and commitment, with as many practical exercises as academic classes. He has said repeatedly that it was rough at the time, but he is currently very grateful for the experience. The thing is, God has us all in a “life-long learning” program. As soon as we make it through one part of His curriculum, He starts us in on another, and if we fail to learn properly, He doesn’t hesitate to teach us the same material all over again, perhaps in a slightly different way. I’ve been in something of an “intensive course” in faith and trust over the past two months, and I’m not through yet. I need to remember my own struggles as I deal with others. They may be struggling with a lesson I passed years ago, but that doesn’t mean I’m “better” than they are, just further along in school. I need to function as a tutor, as God gives opportunity, because teaching is the best refresher course!

Father, thank You for this reminder, and for this perspective on my immediate situation. Having a cold on top of it all is simply a reminder that I can’t get through this in my own strength, but Your grace is really all I need. (2 Corinthians 12:9) I do pray for Your perfect will to be done, in the situation and in me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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